The Malta Independent 12 December 2018, Wednesday

Marie Benoit's Diary: Playful surprises from Charles & Ron

Marie Benoît Tuesday, 2 October 2018, 10:38 Last update: about 3 months ago

We know that Fashion is a world of hype and vanity but there are few of us who are completely disinterested in it. I love it even if I neither have the body for it nor the bank account needed to keep up with the ever-changing scene. But this does not deter me from enjoying it, in a virtual kind of way.

Stylists and designers keep the balloon of fantasy inflated with their collections. Apart from Spring-Summer and Autumn-Winter collections now we also have pre-collections and some designers even produce a Cruise collection. I admire gifted people who have the stamina and imagination to create so much, year after year.

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This brings me to our own Charles & Ron who through sheer hard work have achieved a great deal. I still have a brown summer jacket I had bought from their small boutique in Sliema at least 20 years ago. They have come a long way since then.

I was unable to attend their fashion shows in the last couple of years or so. However this year I was free to go which pleased me no end.

Their 'Palazzo' collection for Fall/Winter 2018/2019 was held for the third year in the piazza in front of St Helen's Basilica in Birkirkara, familiar to me as my youngest grand daughter was baptized there only a few months ago. 

This fashion event supported by The Malta Tourism Authority was a collaboration between Charles & Ron and the B'Kara local council. All money for the tickets went to the Malta Community Chest Fund.

Vocalbooth Studios, an upbeat choir, was on the church parvis ready for action as was the band -  a collaboration of the Duke of Connaught's Own Band, Banda ta'Sant'Elena and Socjeta' Muzikali Sant'Antnin.

I need hardly add that without a behind-the-scenes team the show could never have run so smoothly.

Luck was on the side of the organizers on the weather front. There had been a downpour only the day before. But it was a starry night in the piazza that evening last week.

I remember reading that a storm had blown down Tom Ford's tent during one of his shows in Paris. Ouch.

Moira Delia introduced the evening, wearing a blouse and palazzo pants from the collection we were about to see. Everything suits her.

She told us that the linchpin of this collection was Palazzo Parisio, a favourite with the designers. Let us not forget that early this year a couture dress of theirs was exhibited at Buckingham Palace - so palaces were very much on their minds.

You have to give it to the Maltese.  We invariably rise to the occasion and love to dress up. In fact the show really started as soon as guests - largely Malta's fashion crowd - began to arrive. Everyone had made a special effort for the occasion. I felt positively vintage next to so many short skirts and long legs.

I struck up conversation with my neighbours,  Robert Agius and his cousin. He was wearing three watches - none of which work he told me. There were multiple tears in his jeans and he really was looking very  4.colourful. I loved his originality. I like a bit of subversion, even in fashion. It's the rebel in me.

Soon a Bevy of Beauties, one at a time naturally, started walking languidly down the catwalk in some stunning  clothes.

Designers generally present clothes which are not necessarily based on reality. They probably view life in terms of pictures rather than wearability, although, that evening many of those clothes were wearable even if fashion designers are not known for their practicality. 

This collection had the rich colours of the marble floors of Palazzo Parisio, the gold in the opulent Versailles-inspired ballroom, Hibiscus flowers, elaborate tassels and chandeliers were featured in fabric, hand beading and knitwear. For the originality of this duo also lies in the fabric. They simply invent their own.

Models presented us with style - tassle earrings, sometimes worn in one ear only gave instant pizzazz. 5.Many wore boots in the same fabric as the outfit which was quirky and interesting. Often handbags matched the dresses exactly.

Many of Charles & Ron's clothes are designed for women who have the unbridled ability to wear clothes  as an extension of their personalities. In some of the clothes there is a sense of ease. That ability to evoke nonchalance. The skirt and blouse ensembles seemed so easy to wear as did the knitwear.

With its mix of renegate spirit, cutting-edge tailoring and originality, Charles & Ron gave us glamour and in a couple of instances, Victorian femininity.

There were no boring corporate suits. Not a pair of jeans in sight on that catwalk though plenty in the audience. Long flared Biba-style pants were very present - Palazzo pants if you like.

To a certain extent a couple of their creations reminded me of Velázquez Les Meninas.

There wasn't a single black cocktail dress to be seen either. I think we are all fed up with the overworked cocktail dresses which have been around for too long accompanied by the little evening bag and the 6.impossibly high heels. How much longer can we be excited by that?

Here was fashion that is far away from bland uniform office dressing, clothes that are individual and creative.

Fashion never rests. To be a successful designer today you have to be the driving force in making your own stand-out universe. You need to inspire. You need to be original. You need to dream and yes, to keep the balloon of fantasy inflated.

That was an excellent show. There were a few pieces I completely fell for. Had I been slim, a little taller and a good deal younger I would have been on the doorstep of these hard-working designers the following day.


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